Monday, 18 July 2011

Coleman Anecdote 04 John Weeks

In Dorsetshire there was a Mr John Weeks, who after his ejectment became minister of a large congregation at Bristol. But he met with hardships on account of his Nonconformity, which he bore with great patience, meekness, and courage. As he was once preaching in Froom Woodlands, some informers came who had vowed to shoot him; but he directed his discourse to them with such majesty arid boldness that they rode away without giving him any disturbance. He was afterwards imprisoned six months for his Nonconformity, during which he preached out of the prison windows, and had many of the common people constantly to hear him. He was once carried to prison from his pulpit. While he was preaching the officers came in, and demanded by what authority he preached. He thereupon clapped his hand upon the Bible, and said, "By the authority of God and this book." They ordered him to come down. He desired he might conclude with prayer, which they yielded to, standing uncovered. He; prayed so heartily for the king and government, that one of his friends, after prayer, asked a clergyman, who came with the officers, what he had to say against such a man. "Truly nothing," he replied, "only such men eat the bread out of our mouths." There was one John Helliar, a lawyer, crafty and subtle, one of the most furious persecutors in that part of the kingdom. A rather amusing anecdote is related concerning him. On one occasion he went with the bishop to Mr Weeks' meeting-house at Bristol, to apprehend Mr Weeks, and he took down the names of several who were present at the meeting. One, however, hesitated to tell his name, and, though he was pressed again and again, he still refused. At length, being urged by several to inform them why he would not tell his name, he answered, "Because I am ashamed of it." Being further asked what reason he had to be ashamed of his name, he answered, with well-feigned reluctance and shamefacedness, " Because it is Helliar." It is needless to add that there was a general laugh at the mortified lawyer.
We are informed that Mr Weeks was as popular a preacher as most in England, and remarkably fervent in expostulating with sinners. He took pains with his sermons to the last. He was a minister out of the pulpit as well as in it; a most affectionate, sympathising friend, and one who became all things to all men. He discovered a most divine temper in his last illness, and was serene and joyful in the approach of death.

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